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Build apps for Office

Discover what apps for Office are—and how to create them using standards-based technologies like HTML5, JavaScript, CSS3, and XML. Delve into the app development lifecycle. Learn where to start developing your apps, how to design and develop apps, and what to expect when you're ready to deploy an app for Office.

Last modified: February 27, 2014

Applies to: Access app for SharePoint | Excel 2013 | Excel 2013 SP1 | Excel Online | Exchange Online | Exchange Server 2013 | Exchange Server 2013 SP1 | Outlook 2013 | Outlook 2013 SP1 | Outlook Web App | OWA for Devices | PowerPoint 2013 | PowerPoint 2013 SP1 | PowerPoint Online | Project 2013 SP1 | Project Professional 2013 | Word 2013 | Word 2013 SP1

   Office.js: v1.0, v1.1

   Apps for Office manifests schema: v1.0, v1.1

In this article
What is an app for Office?
Start developing apps for Office
Design apps for Office
Develop apps for Office
Publish apps for Office
Install and try out some apps from the Office Store

Additional resources

What is an app for Office?

Starting in Office 2013, you now have the ability to create apps for Office. So what's an app? It's best described as a solution that carries a light footprint and uses web standards-based technologies such as HTML5, JavaScript, CSS3, XML, and REST APIs. Apps have a light footprint because they don't actually install on the computer running the host application, they run from a browser control in a secure app runtime environment, and that means they are easily maintained and updated.

In this section of the docs, we outline all the concepts you need to know up front to build great apps. The docs are organized to step you through the app development lifecycle that we recommend—start, design, develop, and later, publish. Figure 1 shows you what that lifecycle looks like.

Figure 1. Development lifecycle of an app for Office

Start, design, develop, and publish apps
Start developing apps for Office

In Start, we tell you all the basics— about the app model in general, and about discovering the technologies that you'll need to learn or those you might already know and can apply right away to your app for Office development. We've provided links to deeper info, code samples, and how-to tasks to help you get started building great apps. If we succeeded with providing what you need to know in Start, you should have all the info you need to navigate the rest of the docs. If we didn't, we want to hear from you about where we can make the docs better. We are constantly updating topics based on customer feedback and questions, and offering new articles. See Send feedback for ways to reach us and participate in making the docs better.

Jump directly to Start

Design apps for Office

Let's say you have a killer idea for an app. In this section, we'll guide you through the design decisions you need to make and offer best practices to build your app. For example, what makes a good user interface? What are the app "shapes" available? When should I use one instead of another? What options do I have for data access? You get the picture.

Jump directly to Design

Develop apps for Office

Develop is the heart of the docs. We've got in-depth overviews, how-to articles, and code snippets to help explain the different things you can do in an app for Office.

And, code is key, so take a look at the Apps for Office sample pack in the Office Dev Center. It's a direct link to our code samples for apps. As soon as you've set up your development environment, you should check out a few of our samples. Take advantage of a community feature that lets you request a code sample if we don't have one you'd like to see. We take those requests, along with other doc feedback and use them in our continuous updates to the content and samples. So please, let us know if you'd like to see something!

Jump directly to Develop

Publish apps for Office

So now you've built your app, and you're ready to share it. Publish teaches you how to deploy the app to an app catalog on SharePoint or a network share app catalog. You can come here to learn how to list apps in the Office Store.

Jump directly to Publish

Send feedback

Each article in the SDK has a "Did you find this helpful?" section at the bottom, and there is a free-form "Tell us more..." section to help you better express any issues you have. Please use these to send us your comments; we monitor this daily and make changes based on your suggestions.

You can also amend each topic using the Community additions section at the bottom of each topic. We also monitor this daily and make changes based on your suggestions.

Do you have feedback on how we're doing? Another way to send feedback is via email. Contact us at docthis@microsoft.com.

If you have a support issue, the best way to get a quick response is to post to the Developing Apps for Office 2013 forum on MSDN.

Install and try out some apps from the Office Store

Learn how to install apps in Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Project, or Word, and then run them with a spreadsheet, email, appointment, presentation, project, or document.

You can also install apps by browsing the Office Store and adding your apps from there. If you are interested in walking through some of the sample code, see Sample mail apps and Sample task pane and content app walkthroughs.

To download and install an app for Office for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Project

  1. Start Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Project and then open a document, workbook, presentation, or project.

  2. On the Insert tab, choose the drop-down menu on the Apps for Office button, and then choose See All.

  3. At the bottom of the Insert App dialog box, choose the Find more apps at the Office Store link.

    The Apps for Office & SharePoint download page in the Office Store opens in the browser.

  4. On the top of the page, choose the link for the Office application you're working with to filter the page for apps that work with that application, and then choose an app to download.

    The install page for each app opens with details, reviews, and requirements.

  5. Choose the Add button to download and install the app.

Once the app is installed, a page that contains instructions about how to start using the app opens in the browser.

After you've downloaded some sample apps, you can run them in the Office client applications that they support.

To run an app for Office in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Project

  1. Start Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Project, and then open a document, workbook, presentation, or project.

  2. On the Insert tab, choose the Apps for Office button.

  3. In the Insert App dialog box, choose MY APPS to show apps that you downloaded from the Office Store. If apps that you just downloaded aren't showing, choose Refresh.

  4. Choose the app that you want to run, and then choose the Insert button.

To add an app for Office in Outlook, Outlook Web App or OWA for Devices

  1. Start Outlook, Outlook Web App or OWA for Devices.

    • In Outlook, on the File tab choose Manage Apps.

    • In Outlook Web App or OWA for Devices, choose the Settings (gear) icon in the upper right corner, and then choose Manage apps.

    If you are prompted to log in to the Exchange Admin Center (EAC), enter your account and password.

  2. On the apps for Outlook page, choose the New (plus) icon, and then choose Add from the Office Store.

  3. The Office Store opens a download page for apps for Outlook in the browser.

    The download page for each app opens with details, reviews, and requirements.

  4. Choose the Add button to download and install the app.

Once the app is installed, a page that contains instructions about how to start using the app opens in the browser.

NoteNote

If you install a mail app from any one of the clients (Outlook, Outlook Web App or OWA for Devices), that mail app will also be available when you access the same Exchange account from the other 2 clients, as long as the app supports them.